Enjoy your Holiday Meal Guilt free

I was talking to a friend recently, and she was telling me how she’s already tired of the holidays.

I said, “But they’ve barely started! How can you be sick of it already?”

Her response made me sad, because it reminded me of how things used to be for me as well. She said, “Kerri, I’m so tired of feeling guilty about food. I can’t wait for January when it will all be back to normal.”

This is not an uncommon feeling this time of year. Holidays bring treats, parties and big dinners. Food is intertwined with all of it. It’s what humans have done forever. We celebrate with food. Every culture has their special meals and foods.

For those with a strained relationship with food, this can be torture. The desire to retreat is strong – just disappear until it’s all over. But the draw to the food can be equally as strong, creating this incredible tug-of-war. No wonder it’s no fun anymore.

I asked my friend if she had ever considered thoroughly enjoying the holiday foods, completely guilt-free, even the foods that she considered not-so-healthy – in fact, especially those foods.

She looked at me like I was nuts. “I’d never stop eating, Kerri.”

So I told her about some interesting research that I had read.

In this study, they divided the people into two groups, and both were given the same shake under different pretenses.

One group was told that this was a healthy meal replacement with a reasonable calorie count and nutritional profile. The label on the shake reinforced that idea.

The second group was told that the shake was an indulgent treat, with more calories than it actually contained. The label showed that the shake lacked nutrients.

Each group had their grehlin levels measured after they consumed it, and again an hour or so afterwards. Grehlin is the hunger hormone. When it’s high, so is hunger. There are many hormones that contribute, but this is a strong one.

Both groups’ grehlin levels dropped after consumption, suggesting a sense of fullness and satisfaction. The big difference came later.

For the group that believed they were drinking a healthy shake, their levels were still stable an hour later. They stayed full and satisfied.

What about the group that believed they had indulged in a high-calorie treat? Their levels rose quite quickly after consuming it, and then dropped again. They were left hungry and unsatisfied. 

So what did we learn after geeking out on this research? That your mindset about the food you’re eating is going to greatly affect how satisfied you will be after eating. If you believe that you’re overindulging, then you’re not going to feel satisfied for long after said ‘treat.’ But if you sit down with your food and believe that it is a perfectly reasonable choice, your body will respond with satiety.

This was very interesting to my friend because she is a binge eater and she has always wondered why even after eating huge amounts of food her body never seems to feel full. Even if she feels physically full, her hunger returns surprisingly fast.

So the moral of this story is just change your mindset – easy, right? Ha, right! Look, I know first-hand how hard it is to change your relationship with food. It took me years to figure this stuff out. Just know that you are not alone, and that help is available.

I wish you all the best with whatever you celebrate.

Dr. Kerri

To book a Food Sanity Session click here

Download your free copy of Break Free From Binge Eating